The Curious Theatre Branch’s ambitious yearly showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago’s fringe began as part of the Bucktown Arts Fest. Over the years it’s mushroomed from a neighborhood happening to an event of citywide significance–especially now that it’s been taken under the wing of the Department of Cultural Affairs as part of a laudable effort to bring an off-off-Loop sensibility into Chicago’s downtown theater district.

Taking its name from surrealist painter Salvador Dali’s use of the term “rhino-cerontic” (it means real big), the 14th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival runs through October 26. Performances take place at the Curious Theatre Branch, 7001 N. Glenwood; No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood; and the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Admission is $12 or “pay what you can”; for information and reservations, call 773-274-6660.

Following is the schedule through September 11; a complete schedule is available online at


The Casual Family

This program features four short plays with music: Airland, by Adam Vine; Aviary, by Nora Jean Lange; and Tuning In to the Power of Active Listening and Understanding Shyness, by Brian Torrey Scott. Curious Theatre Branch, 7 PM.


Sidewalk Etiquette

Idris Goodwin’s “humorous ensemble drama,” set in a blue-collar neighborhood in a midwestern city, is performed by the Hermit theater group. Curious Theatre Branch, 7 PM.

The Jazzterpiece

Barrie Cole, whose writing is known for its experimental approach to language, penned this “play about jazz, loss, yoga, and the delusions of creativity.” Joe Huppert directs. No Exit Cafe, 7:30 PM.

The Wolf Hunt

Matt Wilson’s drama, directed by Daniel Taube, concerns an adopted man’s attempt to track down his birth family. Curious Theatre Branch, 9 PM.

Jeff Kowalkowski Ensemble

The group performs an evening of experimental chamber music. No Exit Cafe, 9:30 PM.


My Name Is Mudd

See review this section. Curious Theatre Branch, 7 PM.

Vato Maldito

This Prop Thtr production about a Latino safecracker is adapted from the memoirs of Johnny “Bubbles” Gallegos by Gallegos’s nephews Raoul and Scott Vehill (Scott Vehill codirects with Stefan Brun). No Exit Cafe, 7:30 PM.

500 Clown Frankenstein

The circus-theater troupe 500 Clown offers its response to the classic monster tale. Curious Theatre Branch, 9 PM.

Jeff Kowalkowski Ensemble

See listing for 9:30 PM Friday, September 5. No Exit Cafe, 9:30 PM.



See review this section. Curious Theatre Branch, 3 PM.

500 Clown Frankenstein

See listing for 9 PM Saturday, September 6. Curious Theatre Branch, 7 PM.

Red Circle Prayers, Trap Door Dream Dogs, and Love Gandhi

The first of these three one-acts, written and performed by Robin Cline and Eiren Caffall, is described as “a collaborative investigation of landscape, friendship, vacation, therapy, and disaster.” The second is a collaboration between writer Teresa Weed and actor Kat McJimsey. The closer is Heidi Broadhead’s portrait of a longtime activist and her lover, a recent convert to the left, as they attend a peace rally. No Exit Cafe, 7:30 PM.


Dorchen & Isaacson’s Medicine Show

Theater Oobleck’s David Isaacson and Jeff Dorchen present a comic, participatory program of “improvised theatrical healing.” Curious Theatre Branch, 7 PM.


Cavan P.M. Hallman’s poetic theater piece draws on T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and other literary sources. No Exit Cafe, 7:30 PM.


Dorchen & Isaacson’s Medicine Show

See listing for 7 PM Monday, September 8. Curious Theatre Branch, 7 PM.


The Casual Family

See listing for Thursday, September 4. Curious Theatre Branch, 7 PM.